Early Neolithic pits at Principal Place, Shoreditch, London Borough of Hackney

Jonathan Cotton, Andy Daykin, Julie B Dunne, Patrick Quinn, Alex Bayliss, Emmanuelle J A Casanova, Richard P Evershed, Timothy D J Knowles, Alan Pipe, Karen Stewart

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A group of four pits excavated in the upper Walbrook valley at Principal Place, Shoreditch by MOLA in 2015 produced the largest assemblage of Early Neolithic Bowl pottery recovered to date from the City of London and its immediate surrounds. The Neolithic pits had been fortuitously preserved within part of the northern extramural Roman cemetery of Londinium and conjoining sherds of Bowl pottery were also recovered from the fill of an isolated late Roman cremation. A range of analyses showed that the vessels – comprising essentially Plain Bowl with some Decorated Bowl, the latter incorporating Peterborough Ware traits – were probably locally made and had been used to process dairy products and to stew beef and mutton (though not pork). Radiocarbon dating of the lipids absorbed within the vessel walls – employing a novel technique developed at the University of Bristol – suggest that the pottery was being used in the mid-fourth millennium cal BC. The pits also contained small assemblages of struck flint, fauna (some burnt) and archaeobotanical remains (some intrusive) and may have been filled using material drawn from a long-vanished ‘pre-pit’ source, possibly a midden; they presumably represent episodic activity on the part of semi-sedentary Neolithic communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)01-38
Number of pages38
JournalLondon and Middlesex Archaeological Society Transactions
Early online date1 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2023


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